The American Rescue Plan Act (ARP) 2021 was signed into law on March 11, 2021, and provides an additional $122.8 billion for the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ARP ESSER Fund). ARP ESSER Fund awards to SEAs are in the same proportion as each State received funds under Part A of Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as amended, in fiscal year 2020.
The Utah State Board of Education (USBE) is distributing these funds by application in alignment with the federal distribution formula. This new funding is intended to help local education agencies safely reopen schools, measure and effectively address accelerated learning, and take other actions to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on the students and families who depend on our K-12 schools.
Although the ARP ESSER uses of funds are similar to those for ESSER I and ESSER II, there are important distinctions between the ARP ESSER and other ESSER programs, including the period of funds availability, equitable services to non-public schools, maintenance of effort, and a report on efforts to measure and address accelerated learning. LEAs may plan to use all remaining ESSER I and ESSER II funds before making use of the ARP ESSER funds, given the shorter remaining period of availability, however, this is not a requirement. Please consult the accompanying fact sheet to learn more about the ARP ESSER program.
As part of the required state application for the U.S. Department of Education, USBE leaders met with a diverse group of stakeholders to get input on statewide needs in May 2021. USBE identified the following three issues currently facing students and schools across Utah as a result of or in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We urge LEAs to consider these priority areas in designing plans for the use of ARP ESSER funds.
- Student mental health and social-emotional needs including student health foundations and protective factors.
- Missing or Disengaged Students in K-12
The ARP ESSER funds require that an LEA engage in meaningful consultation with stakeholders in the development of this plan. The LEA will assure that the public has been provided the opportunity to provide input to the LEA ARP ESSER plan, that the LEA has taken the public input into account, and that the local school board has adopted the LEA’s plan for the use of ARP ESSER funds in an open and public meeting.